My attempt at a gentle teaching moment for a child I’m close to but who is not my actual child wasn’t met with appreciation.
I certainly never intended to overstep. I care deeply about a large number of kiddos in my life, this one included, and think a lot about ways I can assist their parents in developing the good parts of their character.
But the parent took my offering as indictment rather than assistance in what I know is already being taught in the home.
Obviously I have no experience as a parent and don’t claim to have any advice for raising children.
I merely recall how many times I clung to every word and piece of advice offered by extended family members, mentors, teachers, coaches, church leaders, public figures and other such heroes in my life growing up while thinking my parents didn’t have a clue.
Obviously, I discovered how wrong I was about my parents’ level of wisdom once I moved into adulthood myself. And the older I get the more I appreciate the advice, direction and concern my parents provided and continue to provide.
Still it is the rare child who discovers during his or her childhood the value of listening to parents who truly have their best interest in mind and are striving to follow God as they fulfill their role.
And because of that built-in reaction to resist and stake our independence, we need a collective force to help us grow into what we hope would be considered responsibile adults.
It’s certainly an extra load none of us have to add to our already overpacked schedules but I’ve found it fulfilling to watch a young person grow and mature, sometimes knowing I had the privilege of contributing to his or her development.
Of course, it can be discouraging at moments as well, like when they refuse to listen to anyone with rational intentions or when they take full credit for something that someone else actually taught them.
I’m guessing parents deal with that scenario on a daily basis.
And, if I’m honest, I can see how another person attempting to share life lessons with a child could upset a parent.
As long as the advice being shared or actions being modeled are in sync with the parents’ comfort level, I’m sure they would normally welcome the reinforcements.
But in a day when criticism is tossed about so freely and flippantly, it is possible the ones who take offense are often times misreading simple acts of love and kindness as veiled judgmental stabs. Then again, it really is hard to tell these days.
I’ve found myself in several day-to-day situations (nothing to do with children) defending a straight-up answer to a question or simple request for assistance in a certain area as being exactly what I outlined. The accusers claimed that what I was saying could not be as simple as I said, that there had to be a hidden agenda.
It hurts a bit when the person saying this to you is someone you thought knew your heart, but it has made me realize the unfortunate degree of how much we as family members, friends, co-workers and believers in general have built walls because of past hurts.
And it inspires me to keep fighting to share God’s love and light, and to remember I desperately need His guidance and strength — and the support of fellow believers — to push through the darkness.
—Jennifer Davis Rash